12.16.2008

On The Fly!

Written and performed by NYC high school students!

December 15th at West Side Theater Downstairs, 407 W. 43rd St., at 7 pm. What do New York teenagers have to say? Check out MCC Youth Company’s first production of the year!

NOTHING is off limits! Company members have ONLY three hours to write and rehearse a show...can they finish in time?

Free!

For more info visit www.mcctheater.org/youthcompany

Home

by Delvin Marte

What if…you needed a place to belong?

Where is your home? For Cephus Miles, a man from Crossroads, North Carolina, home turns out to be exactly where he knew it was.

Cephus is eager for love and adventure. He travels to New York City to make money, but finds the city’s parasitic way of life a little too strenuous. Cephus tries to better himself, but ends up hastily throwing his chances away. His life falls apart because he can’t stop running from his problems.

Many of us do that. We look for the easy way out and then wonder why things don’t turn out differently. We try to compensate for our flaws and mistakes, further burying us in our own graves.

Cephus’ journey shows that though life isn’t always easy, with perseverance and passion, the good life will find you. Cephus finds his way home because he stays focused on what’s important. In the end, Cephus and I both realized that in order to know where you’re going, you first have to know where you’re from.

Home by Samm-Art Williams.

$20 tickets - visit www.signaturetheatre.org for more information.

Spring Awakening

By Nat Marcus







Spring Awakening is a musical about confused teenagers who are unsure of their role in a world that won’t speak to them honestly. Melchior, Wendla and Moritz are three adolescents who deal with conflicts still common to young adults today. Melchior wants to push everything to the limits and experiment, Wendla wonders about becoming an adult and Moritz is haunted by expectations.





The characters in Spring Awakening are forced to hold in what they need to say and do. The actors play their characters to the extremes, showing us the moody, fervent and very hormonal side of teenagers. These are characters that we can relate to. After all, aren’t we moody, fervent and very hormonal?

Spring Awakening is very relevant to young people today. Although there are fewer limitations on our free speech, our feelings, and our ideas today, there are still many teenagers who feel oppressed and downtrodden.

Spring Awakening is pure passion onstage. See this show to learn about yourself.

$27 Student Rush Tickets at the O’Neill Theatre, 230 W. 49th Street. For schedule and more info visit www.springawakening.com

Prayer for My Enemy

By Derick Sherrier

What if…it was time to speak the truth?












Prayer for My Enemy
is a complicated and captivating play that intertwines many stories and characters. The first two characters we meet are Billy and Tad, childhood friends, who are reconnecting after years apart. The two are in different places: Tad is still stuck in the past, while Billy is trying to move forward with his life. Billy’s step forward is to serve in Iraq, a decision that affects everyone in his life.

Billy’s family is full of secrets. The relationship between Billy’s mother and sister, Marianne, was very realistic. Billy’s mom is always trying to hold the family together, despite the anger and resentment building within. Initially, Marianne also covers her true feelings to hold the family together, but as the play progressed she spoke more honestly.

The young people (Billy, Tad and Marianne) portrayed on stage represented broader generalizations of what it means to be a young person in a family and in society. These characters were affective because they could reach out to audience members of all ages.
Prayer for My Enemy made me think about the different people in my life with whom I am connected. You never know who might be your enemy and who might be your friend.

Prayer for My Enemy by Craig Lucas.

How to See the Show: $15 student rush • Playwrights Horizons, 416 W. 42nd St. Visit www.playwrightshorizons.com for schedule and more information.

Equus

By Chris Ramirez

What if…you were scared of your passion?

Daniel Radcliffe has been placed in a mental institution for blinding six horses.

Confused? Don’t be. That’s just the beginning of Equus and Radcliffe is playing the role of disturbed teenager Alan Strang. Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon from the Harry Potter movies) joins Radcliffe as a child psychiatrist who is determined to help Alan deal with his issues.

At first, I felt total disgust for Alan’s actions, but as his story unraveled I began to understand what led to his vicious crime. The use of flashbacks to show moments from Alan’s childhood helped me to put Alan’s actions in context.

The actors who played the horses were extraordinary. From the moment they put on their metal horse masks and began to elegantly prance around the stage, I forgot they were people wearing flesh-colored outfits and metal hoof boots and was lost in the illusion. The use of white halogen lights in the place of their eyes was really creepy.

As an aspiring actor myself, I have to give Daniel Radcliffe credit for taking on such a difficult role and nailing it. I highly recommend seeing this show, whether or not you are a Harry Potter fan.

Equus by Peter Shaffer.

How to See the Show: $31.50 student rush • Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44 St. Visit www.equusonbroadway.com for schedule and more information.

11.25.2008

The Language of Trees

By Amalia Queller

What Language Do You Speak?

The Language of Trees follows the story of a family split apart by war. Loretta and her seven year old son, Eben, deal with the absence of their husband and father while he is stationed as a translator in the Middle East. Their stories are told through dialogue and monologue on several mini-stages, forcing the audience to exist in different places at the same time.

Eben, and his mother Loretta and her neighbor, Kay, begin as strangers starting off on an awkward note. We see Kay as the noisy neighbor that we have all had at one time in our life. Their friendship grows into a codependent relationship, while trying to allow each other to grow and heal.

The play also explores the renewed relationship between mother and son as they rediscover one another. We see the truth of story through the young boy’s na├»ve but honest eyes. We also experience the husband’s relationship with his own psyche and how he copes with the war, by creating a figment of his imagination in the form of President Bill Clinton to survive the solitude.

The casting of an adult, Gio Perez, to play a young boy was genius. His acting is brilliant. He embodies the precocious nature of the curious child we’ve all known. We were able to experience the situation through his eyes; his naivety and optimism allows us to experience the essence of childhood. The characters illuminate the central theme of communication.

The idea of a tree language is the theme that brings the story together and gives us insight into Eben and Denton’s relationship. This language is really Eben’s escape from the grave situation of his father. We also see the philosophy of Denton’s that helps us understand why he went to the Middle East in the first place: “Enemies are just friends who don’t know how to talk to each other yet,” which is the essence of this play.

How to See the Show: $20 student tickets available through www.hiptix.com. Steinberg Center Black Box Threatre, 111 West 46th St.

10.28.2008

The True Tale of an Intern

By Amalia Queller

I love the theatre, but I hate being onstage. This led me to look for an administrative internship, so I would have the opportunity to work with the people who run the theatre. I looked through the internship guide in last fall's PxP and wrote my first resume and cover letter. Luckily, my parents gave me a hand. I sent out what felt like hundreds of emails and slowly started getting responses. The Women's Project asked me to come in for an interview and I was so nervous.

Fear, excitement and anxiety pulsed through my veins as I approached the offices. A little voice in my head told me to turn around, but luckily, I kept going because they hired me! That day began an incredible experience. I found an amazing group of people who were a fountain of information.

The first day was a mixture of intense fear of making a mistake and pure excitement. I gradually learned how things worked and got to know the people I worked with.

My intern experience showed me many of the different paths available in theatre: development, dramaturgy, artistic direction, stage management (check the glossary for definitions). I was also able to see shows for free (such as Aliens with Extraordinary Skills), meet all kinds of amazing people in the field and learn how to put on plays.

10.23.2008

Aliens With Extaordinary Skills

By Mariana Quinn-Makwaia

Have you ever...taken a chance to follow a dream?

Where are you from? And where are you going?

Aliens With Extraordinary Skills is the heart-warming tale of a clown from Moldova,“the unhappiest country in the world,” who illegally immigrates to New York City in order to find work. Nadia searches Manhattan for clowning gigs and green cards.

The actors used a combination of clowning and perfect comedic timing to tell a captivating story. Who knew what could be done with just a suitcase of balloon animals?

Nadia’s roommate, Lupita (an aspiring actress who works as a stripper), delivers a monologue about working in the enter-tainment business that I can see myself ranting in ten years. Each bad job or situation is “just another role youplay,” Lupita convinces herself and the audience.
Aliens With Extraordinary Skills is a delightfulmix of physical comedy and the rough reality of green cards and immigration. I spoke with play-wright Saviana Stanescu about what Nadia sacri-ficed in order to be a clown. Saviana told me that passion is what’s important: “Believe in yourself as an artist,” she said. “Say what you have to say.”

Aliens With Extraordinary Skills by Saviana Stanescu at the Women’s Project.

$20 rush tickets 1 hour before the performance - Julia Miles Theater, 424 W. 55th St. Visit www.womensproject.org for schedule and more information.


Saviana Stanescu, the playwright of Aliens with Extraordinary Skills talked with ploggers after a recent performance of her show.

PXP: What inspired you to write Aliens with Extraordinary Skills?

SS: I read an article anout a Romanian and a Ukrainian who got arrested in 2006 because they created a bogus circus. They smuggled hundreds of people from Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia into the US under fake circus visas. I found that funny and sad at the same time. Most of these people worked illegally in carpentry and housecleaning, but a few worked as clowns for birthdays and parties on the side. They all got deportation letters.

All of these "clowns" had dreams of a better life when came to the US. They love America and come here with lots of enthusiasm and trust in this country's democracy and socio-political economic system. The fact that America is a country of immigrants is constantly forgotten or ignored.

PXP: How would you describe the style of your play?

SS: Parts of the play are in a surreal, dream-like style. The rapid-fire dialogue represents Nadia's inner conflicts and fears. I always like to dramatize the inner life of a character. I think we miss a lot by not seeing that on stage but only as a subtext or in what the character says to other characters.

The play can be seen as a big circus show, a tragecomedy with "aliens" in leading roles. It's a realistic play at the same time, dealing with the important issues of immigration and love. I hope I don't sound pretentious saying that.

PXP: What do you imagine audiences will take away after seeing Aliens with Extraordinary Skills?

SS: I hope they will have fun, I hope they will find the joy of theatre, and I hope they will learn something about what life is for an immigrant. With its hardships, its despair, its fears, but also its hope and joy.

PXP: What advice do you have for young artists?

SS: Find your truth. Believe in yourself as an artist. Say what you have to say.

For more on Saviana Stanescu visit www.saviana.com

13

Have you ever…had the chance to recreate yourself?

by Sarah Abdalla

Do you remember being 13? The stress of not being a child, but definitely not being an adult either. Friendships change, parents become weird and school becomes more of a headache.
13, a new musical performed only by teenagers, captures some of these changes. After his parents divorce, Evan has to move from New York to Indiana while planning the best Bar Mitzvah* party ever. He begins at a new school and has the chance to reinvent himself.

Evan has the chance to choose between friends who care about him and friends who don’t. After attempting (and failing) to be popular, Evan finally realizes who his real friends are—the two who come to his Bar Mitzvah. I was hoping that more classmates would show up, but maybe this is more realistic.

Some of the jokes in 13 were based on stereotypes. When the audience laughed, it was a wake-up call. I was able to understand that these jokes were meant to point out offensive stereotypes, but other people might not. I hope that audience members are aware of the humor in this play.

13, Music & Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, Book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn


How to See the Show:
$25 student rush tickets with ID • Jacobs Theatre, 242 W. 45th St. Visit www.13themusical.com for schedule and more information.

Kindness

By Monikha Reyes

Have you ever...had to care for a caregiver?

Kindness begins with the backside of Dennis. He is watching porn and masturbating in a hotel room in midtown Manhattan. His mom, Maryanne, hears his screaming and runs in. Talk about awkward.

Maryanne has cancer and wants one last weekend of fun with Dennis. He is a bratty teenager and caring son—a very difficult combination. Maryanne leaves and Frances, a stranger from the hotel, sneaks in. She brings secrets and danger and weaves her way into Dennis and Maryanne’s lives.
Dennis is a disturbing yet vulnerable character. It was heartbreaking to watch him care for his mother. Dennis is responsible for a lot of Maryanne’s medical care. Their relationship is different from the traditional form of parent and child, but one that is pretty common today. Dennis has a strained relationship with his father, who is a gambler and doesn’t see Dennis frequently.

You don’t want to miss Kindness. I guarantee you that there will be at least one moment that shocks you.

Kindness by Adam Rapp at Playwrights Horizons.

$15 student rush tickets. Visit www.playwrightshorizons.com for schedule and more information.

In Conflict

By Brenda Grande

Have you ever…fought for something that you didn’t believe in?

In Conflict is a play about 15 young American soldiers who served in the Iraq War. The actors tell their stories directly to the audience through monologues adapted from interviews of young Iraq veterans.

All of the actors from In Conflict are either college students or recent college graduates, which made them seem so similar to me. One of the actors looked right at me as he spoke about his experience enlisting in the military, and it sounded so different coming from a peer. Some soldiers were excited to leave for Iraq, but others only joined the army so they could pay for college. When they returned from war, many soldiers had a difficult time readjusting to the American lifestyle, in addition to dealing with injuries and nightmares. Family and friends had a difficult time understanding what happened in Iraq and many soldiers did not have the words to describe their experiences.

I spoke with the author, Yvonne Latty, about her process of creating In Conflict. Ms. Latty interviewed veterans and wrote a book, which was then adapted into a play at Temple University with the young people I saw perform.

Culture Project presents Temple University’s production of In Conflict, based on Yvonne Latty’s book, adapted by Doug Wager.

$15 student tickets with ID• Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow St. Visit www.cultureproject.org for schedule and more information.

9.24.2008

Lady

by Sarah Schlesinger

Lady is an intense show about Kenny, Dyson, and Graham, three adults who have been friends since childhood. They have gathered for their annual hunting trip, but find that they have grown apart with the passing of time.

Kenny brings his dog, Lady, on the hunting trip. He immerses himself in movies and weed to escape a difficult reality. Graham has become a successful conservative Republican politician. He wholeheartedly supports President Bush and the war in Iraq. Dyson is devastated when he learns that his son, Duncan, wants to sign up for the Marines.

A great deal of tension is created when Dyson and Graham argue about politics and Dyson’s son decision to join the marines. Surprisingly, Kenny is the most calm and level headed of the three men. He wants nothing more than to avoid fights and the discussion of politics. When anger turns to violence, Dyson and Graham both fire their guns simultaneously. Kenny’s dog, Lady, is shot, but neither Dyson nor Graham take responsibility for their actions.

There is humor in Lady, but also a very real sense of danger. Not only for Kenny, Dyson, and Graham, but for the future of the American people.

$20 student tickets with ID. Rattlestick Theatre, 224 Waverly Place (right by 7th Avenue) in the West Village. Visit www.rattlestick.org for schedule and more information.

9.19.2008

Fringe-Tastic!


PXP Ploggers had a mission…to see as many Fringe Festival (www.fringenyc.org) shows as possible. Check out the 16 plays that we saw! Full reviews on the FringeTASTIC blog.